By Jack Rubinger
3439 SE Belmont
9 am – 3 pm
The Paradox Cafe, known for nutritious and delicious plant-based food options and some wild bathroom murals, has been open in one form or another for 30+ years. One customer remembers getting their haircut next door in what is now the Avalon Theater, then coming to the cafe for breakfast before shipping out to join their assignment around the WWII timeframe.
The current café owner is Bonnie Downey who purchased the cafe back in 2006 and heads a staff of eight.
“Since taking over Paradox almost 13 years ago, we have been through a variety of food fads that have come and gone,” said Downey. “We recognize that we have been careless with our food choices in the past, there’s a need for dramatic change in the future. I think the newer social views about gluten are here to stay.”
One Paradox Cafe diner told The Southeast Examiner that the food here is wonderful. The breakfast selection is extensive serving great choices like the Avocado Benedict, soy-free, gluten-free, plant-based waffles, breakfast burritos, a cheeseburger burrito and amazing gluten-free corn cakes. Salads, soups and burgers are other lunch standards that have been built upon and refined and as they describe “veganized” to meet all peoples needs.
Downey cites maintaining some of the cafe’s equipment, the cost of doing business in this area, the construction that takes away street parking, keeping up with random building graffiti and garbage left after a night of SE Belmont activities as some of her challenges. She said she’s dealt with these issues for years, so they’ve become part of the routine and privilege of owning a business in SE Portland.
“I started in the food service business many, many years ago working for my grandparents at the deli/steakhouse they owned for a couple years. I learned how to flip eggs from my grandfather in a commercial kitchen the summer of my fifth grade year and still love working on a very busy kitchen line,” she said.
The community’s fondness for cannabis presents an interesting challenge/opportunity. “If someone needs a special beverage with the breakfast, we don’t mind if they bring one in to enjoy with their breakfast – as long as it is not a cannabis beverage,” she said.
Downey is updating the cafe with some long overdue floor repairs.
“We want to provide a relaxed, neighborhood cafe environment that creates delicious, healthy options that will nourish your body and mind,” Downey said. As for the future, she said, “I don’t know what tomorrow holds, I just know who holds tomorrow.”